News

Hurst picks up race challenger

90 percent sure she'll run

By Dennis Box-The Courier-Herald

The race for the 31st District state Representative, Position No. 2 seat is beginning to look a lot like a political race.

Chris Hurst, D-Greenwater, is the incumbent in his first term back in the Legislature. He served two terms from 1998-2002, then took four years off, returning in 2006 after defeating Republican Jan Shabro from Tapps Island.

Hurst, 53, has already raised about $30,000 for the next campaign, and it appears he has drawn a Republican challenger.

Sharon Hanek, 51, has said she is about 90 percent certain she will announce her candidacy for the office early this year.

“There is still a 10 percent chance I won't run if some things don't work out,” Hanek said. “I've always worked behind the scenes, but this is like stepping up to the plate.”

Republican party members admit Hurst is a tough and tireless campaigner.

“When I campaign I doorbell every day,” Hurst said. “My secret weapon is my wife, April. She is a great campaigner and it helps when you have a spouse working with you.”

Hurst said he believes it is good for political races to draw candidates from the opposing parties.

“The contrast of ideas is always healthy,” Hurst said. “That's how our democracy works best.”

Hurst cannot raise any more money for his campaign until the Legislative session closes. Fundraising is frozen 30 days prior to the session, which convenes Jan. 14.

Hanek is married to Dan Hanek and they have three children ages 21, 18 and 14.

She had worked as a tax accountant for her own firm, Sharon Koshi-Hanek. She lives in Pierce County between Buckley and Bonney Lake.

Hanek said this is her first attempt at political office. According to Hanek, she spent the last four years lobbying in Olympia during the sessions, “as a private citizen. I was talking about education and lowering taxes. I want to stand up for the little people.”

Hurst, who as two grown children, has worked on veteran's issues and has become a major player again in the Lake Tapps water rights issue since returning to office.

The representative worked with the mayors of Bonney Lake, Auburn and Sumner, Puget Sound Energy, Cascade Water Alliance and community members trying to resolve the logjam surrounding the sale of Lake Tapps and the water rights.

Hurst also led a task force this summer on the surging gang problems in the state. According to Hurst the results of the study will eventually be worked into a legislation package.

The other state representative position in the 31st has also drawn two early contenders. The incumbent Dan Roach, R-Bonney Lake, is being challenged by Democrat Ron Weigelt from Buckley.

The primary election is scheduled for Aug. 19 and the general election for Nov. 4.

Dennis Box can be reached at dbox@courierherald.com or 360-802-8209.

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